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News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The UN’s climate chief has been unable to secure a meeting with the US state department as Donald Trump’s administration mulls whether to withdraw the US from the international climate effort. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is currently in the US and has sought a meeting with Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and other officials over the commitment of the new administration to global climate goals. However, Espinosa said she had not had a response to her request and a state department official said there were no scheduled meetings to announce. The official added: “As with many policies, this administration is conducting a broad review of international climate issues.” Former US secretaries of state haven’t always met directly with the head of the UNFCCC, with meetings often conducted by the US climate envoy, a position currently vacant. However, the lack of response to Espinosa, the former foreign minister of Mexico, is unusual even given the nascency of the new administration. “I don’t think it’s a good sign – it’s a snub,” said Maria Ivanova, a global governance expert at the University of Massachusetts. “Patricia Espinosa has been very gracious about this and she understands what it is like to be a foreign minister. But not responding to the executive secretary is not good manners.” During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate accord and stop all American payment to UN global warming programs. His administration’s stated aim is to slash payments to countries threatened by rising seas, crop failures and heatwaves. Following his election win, Trump said he in fact had an “open mind” about the Paris deal while Tillerson has insisted that the US should have a “seat at the table” in climate talks without specifying exactly what America’s role should be. There are elements within the administration pushing for a rapid exit from the international climate forum. Quitting the Paris deal, in which 196 nations pledged to keep the global temperature rise to below 2C, would take four years in total. But exiting the UNFCCC itself would provide a faster route, at about a year, and this approach has been proposed by Steven Groves, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, who was part of Trump’s state department landing team. This stance has been countered by a group that reportedly includes Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and her husband, the Trump adviser Jared Kushner. The duo are understood to have convinced Trump to not include language critical of the Paris agreement in a forthcoming executive order. Dozens of large businesses, including Nike, Hewlett-Packard and Ikea, have also urged Trump to stick with the Paris deal. “There seems to be a debate within the administration about this and it’s clear there are some voices who understand that withdrawing from Paris would have significant diplomatic repercussions,” said David Waskow, director of the international climate initiative at the World Resources Institute. “Economically, it would also send the unfortunate signal that the US isn’t at the forefront of clean energy technology. There are plenty of reasons to stay within the agreement.” While Trump has previously dismissed the science of global warming, the potential loss of American prestige and international influence could prove key in keeping the US involved in climate talks. Climate is a top line issue in forums such as the G7 and G20 and China has already signaled that it will seek to move into a leadership position should the US pull back. Other countries may even exact punitive measures in response to American withdrawal from the effort to maintain a habitable planet. “Those countries with high ambitions for Paris may impose border adjustment tariffs on the US, which would dramatically increase the prospect of a global trade war,” said John Sterman, director of MIT’s system dynamics group. “That is something that would be very unhelpful. “If we withdraw from Paris or the UNFCCC, we make it much harder to limit the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change. That would create a huge flow of refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere who will look to go to the US and Europe. There won’t be a wall big enough to keep out people fleeing floods and crop failures.” Greenhouse gas emissions cuts pledged by countries at the Paris talks are still insufficient to keep the planet to the 2C warming limit. The world would still be on a pathway to a 3C, or more, temperature increase by the end of the century, which would accelerate sea level rise, trigger food and water insecurity and threaten whole ecosystems such as coral reefs.

News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this May 17, 2016 file photo, a new sticker is placed on the door at the ceremonial opening of a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. A government official says the Trump administration will revoke guidelines that say transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is working on a new set of directives on the use of school bathrooms by transgender students, the White House said Tuesday. The announcement alarmed LGBT groups across the country that have urged President Donald Trump to safeguard Obama-era guidelines allowing students to use school restrooms that match their gender identity, not their assigned gender at birth. White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not provide any details on the new guidelines that are being prepared by the Justice Department, but said Trump has long held that such matters should be left to the states, not the federal government, to decide. "I think that all you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, this is a states' rights issue," Spicer said. The Obama administration's guidance, issued last May, held that transgender students can access restrooms and participate in school athletics according with the gender they identify with. Schools were also instructed to treat students in line with their expressed gender identity without requiring any medical proof. While the move was hailed by rights organizations, it was attacked by conservative groups, which called it federal overreach and an infringement on the personal space and safety of all other students. A patchwork of state laws and policies on the issue is emerging. Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students, and many individual school districts in other states have adopted policies that recognize students on the basis of their gender identity, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. Just one state, North Carolina, has enacted a law restricting students' bathroom access to their sex at birth. But so far this year, lawmakers in more than 10 states are considering similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Vanita Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama, blasted the Trump administration's attempt to alter the guidelines. "To cloak this in federalism ignores the vital and historic role that federal law plays in ensuring that all children, (including LGBT students) are able to attend school free from discrimination," Gupta said in a statement. The National Center for Transgender Equality said Tuesday that even without Obama's guidelines, federal law — called Title IX — would still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation. Still, rescinding those directives would put children in harm's way, the group said. "Such clear action directed at children would be a brazen and shameless attack on hundreds of thousands of young Americans who must already defend themselves against schoolyard bullies, but are ill-equipped to fight bullies on the floors of their state legislatures and in the White House," NCTE said in a statement. But Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the Obama guidelines were unlawful because Title IX protects students based on their sex, not their gender identity. He also said that those directives violated the rights of other students, especially girls who may have suffered from sexual abuse in the past and do not want to be exposed to male anatomy. "It's understandable when a 16-year-old girl might not want an anatomical male in the shower or the locker room," Anderson said. He said that students, parents and teachers should work out "win-win" solutions at the local level, such as equipping schools with single-occupancy restrooms or locker rooms or allowing students to access the faculty lounge. "We can find a way in which the privacy and safety of transgender students is respected while also respecting the privacy and safety of all other students," Anderson said. About 150,000 youth — 0.7 percent— between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States identify as transgender, according to a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Amber Briggle, a small business owner in Denton, Texas, said that it is vital to allow transgender children like her 9-year-old son Max to feel safe and comfortable when going to the bathroom at school.

News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves during a campaign stop at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Fla. Hundreds of parents across the country have called on President Donald Trump to embrace Obama-era protections for transgender students that call for letting them use school bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity. During the election campaign Trump said that transgender students can use the bathroom they like. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of parents across the country have called on President Donald Trump to embrace Obama-era protections for transgender students that allow them use to school bathrooms in accord with their gender identity. In a letter sent to the president by the Human Rights Campaign late Tuesday, more than 780 parents stressed that "all students deserve equal access to a safe, welcoming school and a high quality education no matter who they are." The call follows a decision by the Trump administration last week to abandon a defense of the guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. A court issued an injunction against those guidelines last summer in response to a lawsuit filed by 13 states. President Barack Obama appealed the injunction, but the Trump administration decided to back off from that appeal. Parents of transgender students say that revoking the right of students to use school bathrooms according to their gender identity amounts to discrimination and creates a hostile learning environment for transgender students. "These policies are wrong, they hurt our children, and they violate the principle of equal education," the letter said. Vanessa Ford, an education activist in Washington, D.C., whose 5-year-old daughter Ellie is transgender, said that forcing her to use one-stall individual bathrooms — which are usually located in the nurse's office — or the boys' bathroom would cause her pain. "She would cry. She would withdraw," Ford wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post last year. "She would feel alone, shameful, and unwelcome by her teachers and her peers." Conservative activists firmly oppose the idea, saying it endangers the privacy and safety of other students and infringes on their civil rights. Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation, says such protections for transgender students "will not result in what advocates claim is 'Fairness for All.' Instead, they will penalize many Americans who believe that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other," Anderson wrote. Newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not voiced a position on the bathrooms controversy other than to say that she is against discrimination and will support all students. During the election campaign Trump said that transgender students can use the bathroom they like. An estimated 0.7 percent of youth ages 13-17 in the United Sates, or about 150,000 people, identify as transgender, according to a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Vogel S.A.,Johnson Family Foundation | Roberts J.A.,Heritage Foundation
Health Affairs | Year: 2011

The Toxic Substances Control Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate industrial chemicals not covered by other statutes. Today there are more than 83,000 such chemicals. However, the law is widely perceived as weak and outdated, and various stakeholders have called for its reform, citing the EPA's inability to regulate the use of asbestos, among other substances. We analyze the flaws in the act and suggest ways in which the EPA might better position itself to manage chemical risks and protect the public's health. In addition to the new tools and technologies it is adopting, the agency needs new allies-both inside and outside the government-in its efforts to identify and control hazardous chemicals. © 2011 Project HOPE-The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.

Ottinger G.,Heritage Foundation
Science Technology and Human Values | Year: 2010

In light of arguments that citizen science has the potential to make environmental knowledge and policy more robust and democratic, this article inquires into the factors that shape the ability of citizen science to actually influence scientists and decision makers. Using the case of community-based air toxics monitoring with "buckets," it argues that citizen science's effectiveness is significantly influenced by standards and standardized practices. It demonstrates that, on one hand, standards serve a boundary-bridging function that affords bucket monitoring data a crucial measure of legitimacy among experts. On the other hand, standards simultaneously serve a boundary-policing function, allowing experts to dismiss bucket data as irrelevant to the central project of air quality assessment. The article thus calls attention to standard setting as an important site of intervention for citizen science-based efforts to democratize science and policy. © The Author(s) 2010.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 99.07K | Year: 2012

This project has two goals. One is to teach Ahtna people about the language materials previously collected by anthropologists and linguists available to them, and the second is to create new Ahtna speakers through the use of these materials. One of the goals of the Documenting Endangered Languages Program is to provide wider access to documentary materials. The Program solicitation also encourages language investigators to find innovative ways of training native speakers in descriptive linguistics. The project proposed by PIs Cain and Charley-John would accomplish these objectives. While wider access generally refers to digitization or other means of treating linguistic materials so that they can be shared through current technological media, this project aims to widen the access of Tribal members themselves through training in linguistic analysis. Given the extreme endangerment of a language that has, apparently, fewer than 100 speakers, all of whom are elderly, providing access to the ethnic population that has the greatest stake in its preservation is the major contribution of this proposal. Using Breath of Life methodologies proven to be successful in other communities to enhance that access is an excellent way to begin the training of the speakers in linguistic analysis. The hands-on homework/project plan proposed by the PIs enhances the possibilities for success in this project.

A language with as few speakers as claimed in this proposal for Ahtna could be urgently in need of documentation. Unfortunately, while the proposers indicate that there does exist documentation within the Ahtna archive, specifics are not made available within the proposal. That dictionaries, language curriculum materials, audio and video recordings, transcripts, photo archives and documents exist and are available to the Tribe for their study is not substantially documented within the proposal. It is, therefore, difficult to assess their quality or their accessibility for the proposed project and to declare its intellectual merit on that basis. However, the participation of elders who are speakers of the language assures that language data will be available to the tribal member student groups for further documentation in addition to transcription of existing materials, no matter the quality of those materials.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 399.06K | Year: 2014

A fundamental mission of the Documenting Endangered Language Program is to create digital infrastructure that provides scientists and endangered-language community members access to threatened language data. Countless extant records of endangered languages worldwide are in need of curation with input from linguists and the speaker-communities. April Counceller and Alisha Drabek of the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation will work with a strong team of community members, linguists, archivists, and museum curators to build a comprehensive database of one highly endangered language, Kodiak Alutiiq spoken in coastal Alaska (Alaska Peninsula to Prince William Sound). This database will include existing audio recordings with enhanced metadata, additional data from 33 remaining speakers, and a speaker registry recording when and how each speaker acquired the language. A major part of the project will be to educate Alutiiq speakers on metadata terminology so that materials can continue to be curated and located with ease.

The key to improved language documentation and linguistic discovery is access to language data from a variety of genres, ages, and styles since each data sample provides a different view of language structure. The proposed Alutiq database, created using the innovative Mukurtu Content Management System for endangered language data, will be a model for other communities on how to create a rich corpus for linguistic analysis and community use and how to curate data. It will provide data access and search capabilities. The project will fill gaps in the database by recording missing genres or interaction-types from speakers. The database will be easily accessible through the Alutiiq Museum and the Alaska Native Language Archive websites.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 79.24K | Year: 2011


?A Study of Interdisciplinary Materials Research and Training in the United States?
PI: Hyungsub Choi (Chemical Heritage Foundation)

Technical description

This project brings historical grounding to a crucial contemporary issue in science and science policy: How can the U.S. federal government best maximize its investment in research? Much of federal research policy today emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration as an effective pathway toward solving critical societal problems. This line of thought is reflected in the proliferation of conglomerate and mega research centers in many interdisciplinary fields, including nanotechnology, energy technologies, and biomedical research. Thus, the idea of interdisciplinary research and training undergirds, in the words of Vannevar Bush in the oft-cited 1945 report Science: The Endless Frontier, the ?health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern world.? In short, interdisciplinary research is the ?basic research? of the early 21st century, one of the key building blocks that constitute the modern state.
While the National Science Foundation has kept a keen eye on this topic through organizing workshops and publishing reports, the scholarly literature is sorely in need of a historical dimension. The origin of such research and funding practices can be traced back to the large-scale interdisciplinary materials research centers established in the early 1960s, which serve as the focal point of this research project. Based on extensive archival research and oral history interviews, this project will trace the continuities and discontinuities of interdisciplinary research and federal funding practices in the second half of the 20th century using as comparative case studies the Materials Science Center at Cornell University, the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Materials Research Center at Northwestern University), identifying the enduring patterns of institutions, disciplinary boundaries, and funding streams from the early years of materials research in the 1960s through the transitory phase in the 1970s to interdisciplinary nanotechnology research.

Broader impact

The Chemical Heritage Foundation will serve as an effective home base to disseminate the results of this project to a broader audience. The summary report will be published and distributed as part of the Studies in Materials Innovation white paper series in the Chemical Heritage Foundation?s Center for Contemporary History and Policy. This series reaches an established audience of research managers and Chief Technology Officers at corporate and government laboratories across the country. Copies of the report will be made available to the members of the U.S. Congress, specifically those sitting on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 40.57K | Year: 2012

The Koniag Alutiiq Orthography project will compile and complete existing, unpublished research to develop a stable, standardized orthography system for Kodiak Alutiiq. The PI, Dr. April Counceller of the Alutiiq Museum and University of Alaska - Kodiak College, will work with renowned Alutiiq Linguist Jeff Leer, who is recently retired from the Alaska Native Language Center at UAF. Counceller will compile Leers previous research notes and articles on the Alutiiq writing system, collect new data from the few remaining fluent speakers (less than 50, all elderly and scattered throughout Alaska), and create a writing system book that will be accessible to heritage speakers. This data will be of great interest to language scholars developing orthographies for endangered languages and for comparative linguistics. In addition the project will create materials that this will assist in the preservation of the Alutiiq language for future heritage speakers. The project PI correctly states that this project is appropriate for RAPID funding because many factors have converged to make this project successful and timely: 1) the availability and willingness of Dr. Leer to participate; 2) the waning availability of a few fluent first-language speakers; 3) The Alaska Native Corporation, Chugachmiuts willingness to support Dr. Counceller through sharing of similar-dialect materials, and 4) the urgent need in the community for the orthography in order to produce language revitalization texts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 65.51K | Year: 2012

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is conducting a two-day conference in Washington, D.C. that brings together scholars, researchers and informal science education professionals to explore new approaches to engage the public in issues at the interface of science and society. The conference will consider recent scholarship about the legacy of the Manhattan Project during and post WWII and address how questions about science and society raised by the development of the atomic bomb can inform and be integrated with contemporary issues. Also attending the conference will be representatives from the American Science and Energy Museum in Oak Ridge, TN, the Los Alamos Historical Society in Los Alamos, NM, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM, and the Columbia River Exhibition on Science, History and Technology in Richland, WA.

This exploratory workshop is intended both to advance the inter-disciplinary scholarship and to generate innovative ideas and recommendations for the development of exhibits, programs and media about this topic and its relevance to the 21st Century. The focus is not about presenting the underlying science of nuclear fission or energy, for example, but speaks to the greater challenges that emerge when presenting issues raised by science in the broader context of history, society and culture. Given the goals and inter-disciplinary nature of the topic and the diversity of the expertise of participating professionals, the workshop is being supported by the Informal Science Education program in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and the Science, Technology and Society Program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

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